Test your home for radon

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a major effort to inform Americans about the dangers of radon exposure and the need to identify and fix radon problems in their homes.

What is radon?

Radon is a naturally occurring, invisible, odorless gas that is harmlessly dispersed in outdoor air, but when trapped in buildings, can be harmful at elevated levels. It is present in elevated levels in about 35 percent of Minnesota homes, which compares with only 7 percent of homes nationally. Major studies have indicated that exposure to elevated levels of radon causes lung cancer in humans.

Radon's danger

A National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report in February 1998 confirmed that radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S., causing between 15,000 and 22,000 lung cancer deaths each year. Yet, since you can't see or smell radon, people tend to minimize the health effects and ignore the possibility that it might exist at elevated levels in their home.

The only way to know if you have a radon problem is to test your home.

Test for radon

Using simple, inexpensive kits, homeowners can test for the presence of radon in their homes and, if it is present, take steps to fix the problem. Radon test kits that meet EPA guidelines are available at city and county health departments, hardware stores, home improvement stores, other retail outlets, or directly from a laboratory. Many are priced under $20.

**There are short term kits available at City Hall from the Community Development counter. 

Radon can be fixed

If an elevated level is detected (> 4pCi/L) in a home, radon problems can be fixed by homeowners or qualified contractors. The typical cost is similar to many common home repairs such as painting or having a new water heater installed (anywhere from $500 to about $2,500).

Radon is a public health hazard, but the good news is it has a straightforward solution: Test your home and take action, if necessary, to keep radon out.

Radon resources